On Sept. 16, I attended the launch of Sexual Violence Awareness Week, Sept. 16-22, themed Breaking Out of the Box. It’s a time to remember and support victims but also challenge the taboo, shame and silence surrounding sexual violence.
Sexual violence statistics are grim. On a national scale, half of all women over the age of 16 have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual assault. Women are 11 times more likely to be victims of sexual violence than men.
The reality is, women and girls experience what are considered more subtle forms of sexual violence every day. Hyper-sexualized music videos, images circulating through social media, and recent appalling incidents at Canadian universities during orientation week, including our own, are often not associated with sexual violence. These are, however, examples which promote sexual violence because they objectify women and by doing so further contribute to gender inequality. This culture not only affects women but the way our youth, both boys and girls, interact with each other and develop their understanding of healthy relationships.
We call on men and women throughout our province to work together to challenge all forms of sexual violence, talk openly with our youth and help build a world that is safer and healthier for all of us.
Linda Ross, president/CEO
Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women